In ‘the good old days’ we knew our fated place
in the God-forsaken, odd, mistaken scheme of things.
Dirt-poor, we bore the burdens of our race:
bound, gagged, oppressed, mere Celtic underlings.
School photos show us boxed in classroom stocks,
that fettered brain and will as much as limb,
in adults’ cut-down tweeds and shapeless smocks,
like sepia shrouds, funereal and grim.
At play, we cloned screen heroes, tyrants, crooks,
stampeded sheep and rodeo-rode a few;
swarmed over hills; swung trees; swam silted brooks,
though always in the rear of life’s long queue.
Our terraced minds sought ledges: jobs that tore
our hopes and dreams to shreds, then darned them whole
with promises of ‘better’, ‘different’, ‘more’,
to quell ambition and sedate the soul.
Men slaved in mines and docks; ploughed barren hills;
at awkward ease drank beer, blew brass, sang songs,
while women scrimped and saved to settle bills,
ashamed to name the source of all their wrongs.
Each Sunday, shrieking deacons drove us flock
to pens of varnished pews, where brimstone burned
and cloven-footed demons hissed to mock
us for resisting all the sins we yearned.
Yet, I remember too rare signs from heaven:
when banners welcomed home our war-worn youth,
and rostra echoed with the speeches of Nye Bevan,
silencing false prophets with the din of truth.
updated by @bel-roberts2: 11/26/17 08:43:48PM